“Think you know Lady Gaga? Think again.” Guess I’ll have to pick up a copy soon!
Oh, and speaking of minimalism…here’s Gaga in “minimal” clothing.
Adrian Wu describes himself as a chameleon trapped in an Asian gay porn star’s body. He is petite but adds height with his 8-inch by 8-inch platform heels. His perfectly imperfect hair is tousled to perfection. His effortless black and white attire is not as androgynous as one would expect.
At just 21-years-old, Wu has captured the attention of some of the most respected people in the Canadian fashion industry and has been critiqued by the media to the point where he’s dealing with anxiety on a daily basis.
“I’ll admit, the average 21-year-old doesn’t get critiqued by the National Post,” says Wu. “And it’s hard. Most people don’t realize that I do get critiqued to that degree.”
After having to wear a uniform since the age of three, Wu’s mom handed him his first sewing machine about two years ago. That’s when he discovered his “talent” or “calling” as he likes to call it, for dressmaking.
“I think that’s what influenced me to go into what I do because I didn’t have my own style and I was forced to discover myself after high school,” says Wu.
He was later accepted into Instituto Marangoni, a school of fashion in London, England, as one of the 20 annual applicants, but deferred the opportunity to start his own fashion design business in late 2010. It was a risk he doesn’t regret.
“I think my father influenced me to be business minded and to realize that I could do it now,” says Wu.
However, he isn’t too happy with the way the fashion industry is set up here in Canada. With the lack of government funding, he feels that he is treated like a retail employee whereas if you go to Europe, designers are treated like doctors.
“I don’t feel respected,” says Wu. “After doing this season, that’s what I realized. And that’s my justification for why I won’t stay here much longer.”
Wu showed for the second time at Toronto Fashion Week with his “Hierarchy of Needs” Fall 2012 collection, which sparked several questions from the media and the fashion industry about the message behind his designs.
“I don’t wanna call myself an artist but I’m someone that likes to have context in my work,” says Wu. “I like to have my work be more than about the clothes. I want my fashion shows to be an experience.”
Wu’s shows are very strategic. The creative image he brought to the runway with the trees made of balloons, the choreography, the music, and the way the models positioned their hands just below their breasts really created a “la la land” fantasy.
“I realize that I have a mini existential crisis before every fashion show,” says Wu.
“I’m not gonna name any names but there are some designers that have showed at Toronto Fashion Week that have gotten a lot of hype and then fell. And that’s scary to me.”
His “romantically politically driven” line featured the feminine silhouettes, ruffles, his signature pattern and technique, but in a more subtle form. Oh! And the V for Vendetta masks added the golden touch.
“I used the masks because I wanted to cite V for Vendetta,” says Wu. “It’s about human rights. It’s a movie questioning the idea of anarchy and I’m very passionate about improving the world, changing the world, affecting people through not only art.”
Everyday, he’s researching in his empty yet brightly lit studio in Toronto. Researching what’s going on, what’s relevant? He feels it’s the only way to move forward.
“And as far as I know, no designs have really used lanterns,” says Wu about being criticized for quoting Comme des Garcons. “I really do take pride in researching before I create and do your research before you criticize me.”
Wu quotes philosopher Terence McKenna: “I am not a guru. I am simply just a witness. Just a witness.”
This is what he tells himself every single day. To be realistic because being deluded by all that’s going on, regardless of how amazing it is, can get you into trouble.
However, everyone has a dream.
Here’s Wu’s: “Ultimately, it would be amazing if I could be a designer at Dior,” says Wu. “Not the designer, just a designer at Dior. Maybe that’s settling. I want to be a part of history. To be able to have that public influence and to shape the way our society is just by the way that they dress. Clothes are an extension of skin.”
Well, that’s a little bit more probable than his other dream.
“Everything that I design, I design so that I could wear it myself,” says Wu. “So that it can androgynously be worn by both genders. Because genders is what limits fashion, I think.”
He questions why is there an idea that men must go in one direction of the store and woman must go in the other? There are no rules in fashion, so why are there these society rules?
Looks like we’re going to have to get used to the idea of men wearing dresses. Regardless of the fact, Wu will one day go into “society viewed” men’s clothing to make a profit because at the end of the day, it’s all about the money. It’s about knowing who you are.
“I am a very business minded person,” says Wu. “Where is the money going? What is going on? Where do you wanna be in three months? What kinds of people are surrounding you? Who’s helping you? Why are they helping?”
These are the questions that seem to be on his mind all the time. For someone who has easily been written off as a teenager, he sure doesn’t think like one.
“I never watch myself on TV,” says Wu. “I don’t need to remind myself that I’m being performative.”
He finds it difficult to talk about his work on television as himself and be interesting at the same time. So putting on this “teenager” act to get the attention that he’s getting is all part of his marketing scheme.
“Maybe I do get a little bit of a joy playing it up but it’s fascinating,” says Wu.